Thread: Royal Air Force
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Old 25-05-2016, 07:25 PM   #55
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Default Brave people

I knew he had been in the RAF. He was the father of a girl I knew. I also knew he worked for a cigarette company. In his London flat there were loads of prototype cigarettes. His daughter had a party there and some of the guests at this 60’s party smoked his precious fags, drank his corporate booze and made a complete mess of the place. He went ballistic and because I lived almost next door I was the one summoned to explain. He also had a nice house near Cambridge with a heated swimming pool made to look like a stream going around the garden. When I stayed there his chauffeur picked me up at the station. The night after this party I had a shower and I flooded the bathroom floor which went straight through the ceiling. So I met him for breakfast under this patch of water seeping through. He liked the fact that I was an early riser like him then he looked up and went ballistic again, with everyone else staying there fortunately. I should have owned up but I had mopped the floor and he was so angry I just could not find the words! So I was interested when I found this recently:

“As did thousands of others, I dropped civilian life at the outbreak of World War II to volunteer for service in the Royal Air Force. I had a pilot's licence from a flying club with about twenty hours experience in a Tiger Moth. After journeying from Ceylon at my own expense, I turned up at the Air Ministry in the spring of 1940 and said: "Where's my Spitfire?"
"Spitfire hell. You're too old." I was 30. "But there's airborne radar and we're looking for blokes like you."
Thus it came to pass that after diligent training I became a sort of a whiz kid at AI - Night Air Interception and Navigation. The rest the reader may glean from this novel.
On a mild wet October morning in 1945 at Uxbridge, I doffed my RAF uniform and ribbons and returned to civilian life to become International Director of the Rothmans of Pall Mall World Group of tobacco companies. At the age of 63, I retired from active business and found the time to tidy up my personal life and papers, and to reflect upon the past.
In these circumstances I wandered one winter's day into the loft of my country home. Here I found, buried amidst other memorabilia, my RAF uniform, medals, flying log-book, combat reports, photographs, diaries, love letters and an oil-stained HM Stationery Office exercise book of hand-written RAF songs such as were sung at parties. The music and words of a few were composed by myself. These I caused to be typed and photocopied for old comrades and friends. They were much in demand.
One evening, I thumbed through my flying log-book. The entries brought back memories: some fond, some happy, but mostly sad. With time on my hands, and spurred by a compelling urge to be an author, I wrote this story within a fortnight. It was an easy book to write because the dates, catalogued in my log, triggered my memory and imagination. The service characters have been camouflaged with fictitious names, titles and ranks, and should not be taken to resemble specific persons, living or dead.
I am deeply grateful to those friends and old comrades who helped and encouraged me to present to you this biographical novel of a view of World War II which does not appear ever to have been so expressed. It gives glimpses of life in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force and, in the main, pays tribute to the 250,000 "forgotten" women who served in it. Without their devotion the RAF could not have functioned the way it did.
P. O'Neil-Dunne
Cambridge, 17 March 1976

Happy, beautiful and innocent - that was Sally when World War II erupted. As she tells us in her Diary, she was looking forward to a good life with all the enthusiasm of youth. Yet because of the Nazi madman, what became of her was far from her dreams.
Here is a different kind of war tale: a novel about Sally and the men (and women) she loved; also an authentic story about RAF Night Fighters and Waafs, about their unconquerable spirit, tragic love affairs, unselfish loyalty and courage - and some unexpurgated RAF wartime songs which reveal the lighter side of their lives! Throughout runs the theme of the futility of war, of the most calamitous conflagration the world has ever known, needlessly swallowing up thirty million lives.
The author was one of the first RAF aircrew to visit Berlin after the collapse of Germany and he stood on the ruins of the Chancellery a few days after Hitler's suicide. He plants the guilt squarely on that madman whose last days in the bunker are recounted with vivid conviction.
ISBN 0 85974 046 3

Born in S. Ireland, educated in the US, Paddy O'Neil-Dunne's career as a young director of Rothmans was interrupted by World War II. He volunteered for the RAF. From the battle of Britain to VE Day he served with distinction, flying Blenheims, Beaufighters and Mosquitos with 29, 264, 410, 488 Night Fighter Squadrons. He took part in the Dam Busting Raid, Normandy landing and crossing of the Rhine and is one of the few RAF aircrew to survive three tours of operations.
After the war he rose to Director-in-Chief of Rothmans International. He played a leading role in changing smoking habits to safer filter cigarettes. On retirement he took up writing.”
and this:

“Peter Gordon of Slater & Gordon says the documents reveal that tobacco company lawyers in the United States and United Kingdom were involved in a conspiracy to erase sensitive material.
He told The Age that under a secret pact made by tobacco companies in the 1950s no one was allowed to concede that smoking could cause cancer.
The tight bond was broken in 1958 when the world director of Rothmans, Patrick O’Neil-Dunne, placed an advertisement in a Canadian newspaper accepting “the greater the tars reduction in tobacco smoke, the greater the reduction in the possible risk of lung cancer.”
Mr. O’Neil-Dunne later said the weight of statistical evidence linking lung cancer and heavy smoking “can no longer be rejected.”
The advertisement and his comments hit the industry like a tidal wave and were disputed by the industry, which continued to deny the link.”

But I wanted to mention the Red Arrows. Our poor RAF really is in hard times - few planes, mostly old and recently made to bomb countries we should not be bombing.
These people really are brilliant, sadly we have lost a few very brave people. I think they knew the risks and wanted to do this but it is a shadow over the whole of performing flight displays and perhaps they are not worth the awful cost in lives.

“The Red Arrows, officially known as the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, is the aerobatics display team of the Royal Air Force based at RAF Scampton. The team was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, replacing a number of unofficial teams that had been sponsored by RAF commands.
The Red Arrows badge shows the aircraft in their trademark diamond nine formation, with the motto Éclat, a French word meaning "brilliance" or "excellence".
Initially, they were equipped with seven Folland Gnat trainers inherited from the RAF Yellowjacks display team. This aircraft was chosen because it was less expensive to operate than front-line fighters. In their first season, they flew at 65 shows across Europe. In 1966, the team was increased to nine members, enabling them to develop their Diamond Nine formation. In late 1979, they switched to the BAE Hawk trainer. The Red Arrows have performed over 4,700 displays in 56 countries worldwide

The Red Arrows were not the first RAF aerobatics team. An RAF pageant was held at Hendon in 1920 with teams from front-line biplane squadrons.

In 1925, No. 32 Squadron RAF flew an air display six nights a week entitled "London Defended" at the British Empire Exhibition. Similar to the display they had done the previous year, when the aircraft were painted black, it consisted of a night time air display over the Wembley Exhibition flying RAF Sopwith Snipes which were painted red for the display and fitted with white lights on the wings, tail and fuselage. The display involved firing blank ammunition into the stadium crowds and dropping pyrotechnics from the aeroplanes to simulate shrapnel from guns on the ground, Explosions on the ground also produced the effect of bombs being dropped into the stadium by the Aeroplanes. One of the Pilots in the display was Flying officer C. W. A. Scott who later became famous for breaking three England Australia solo flight records and winning the MacRobertson Air Race with co-pilot Tom Campbell Black in 1934.
In 1938, three Gloster Gladiators flew with their wing-tips tied together.[citation needed] Formation aerobatics largely stopped during the Second World War.
In 1947, the first jet team of three de Havilland Vampires came from RAF Odiham Fighter Wing. Various teams flew the Vampire, and in 1950, No. 72 Squadron was flying a team of seven. No. 54 Squadron became the first RAF jet formation team to use smoke trails. Vampires were replaced by Gloster Meteors, No. 66 Squadron developing a formation team of six aircraft.
Hawker Hunter aircraft were first used for aerobatics teams in 1955, when No. 54 Squadron flew a formation of four.
The official RAF team was provided by No. 111 Squadron in 1956, and for the first time the aircraft had a special colour scheme, which was an all-black finish. After a demonstration in France, they were hailed as "Les Fleches Noires" and from then on known as the Black Arrows. This team became the first team to fly a five-Hunter formation. In 1958 the Black Arrows performed a loop and barrel roll of 22 Hunters; a world record for the greatest number of aircraft looped in formation. The Black Arrows were the premier team until 1961, when the Blue Diamonds (No. 92 Squadron) continued their role, flying sixteen blue Hunters.
In 1960, the Tigers (No. 74 Squadron) were re-equipped with the supersonic English Electric Lightning and performed wing-overs and rolls with nine aircraft in tight formation. They sometimes gave co-ordinated displays with the Blue Diamonds. Yet another aerobatics team was formed in 1960 by No. 56 Squadron, the Firebirds, with nine red and silver Lightnings.
In 1964, the Red Pelicans, flying six BAC Jet Provost T Mk 4s, assumed the role of the RAF's leading display team. In that same year, a team of five yellow Gnat trainers from No 4 Flying Training School displayed at the Farnborough Airshow. This team became known as the Yellowjacks after Flight Lieutenant Lee Jones's call sign, "Yellowjack".
In 1964, all the RAF display teams were amalgamated, as it was feared pilots were spending too much time practising formation aerobatics rather than operational training. The new team name took the word red from the fact that the Yellowjacks' planes had been painted red (for safety reasons, as it was a far clearer and more visible colour in the sky) and arrows after the Black Arrows; the official version, however, is that the red was a tribute to the Red Pelicans. Another reason for the change to red was that responsibility for the team moved from Fighter Command to the Central Flying School, whose main colour was red.

…..In July 2004 there was speculation in the British media that the Red Arrows would be disbanded, after a defence spending review, due to running costs of between £5 million and £6 million. The Arrows were not disbanded and their expense has been justified through their public relations benefit of helping to develop business in the defence industry and promoting recruitment for the RAF. According to the BBC, it is highly unlikely that the Red Arrows will be disbanded, as they are a considerable attraction throughout the world. This was reiterated by Prime Minister David Cameron on 20 February 2013, when he guaranteed the estimated £9m per annum costs while visiting India to discuss a possible sale of Hawk aircraft to be used by India's military aerobatics team, the Surya Kiran.

With the planned closure of RAF Scampton, the future home of the Red Arrows became uncertain. On 20 May 2008 months of speculation was ended when it was revealed that the Ministry of Defence were moving the Red Arrows to nearby RAF Waddington. However, in December 2011, those plans were put under review. The Ministry of Defence confirmed in June 2012 that the Red Arrows would remain at RAF Scampton until at least the end of the decade. Scampton's runway was resurfaced as a result.


Since 1966, there have been nine display pilots each year, all volunteers. Pilots must have completed one or more operational tours on a fast jet such as the Tornado, Harrier or Typhoon, have accumulated at least 1,500 flying hours and have been assessed as above average in their operational role to be eligible. Even then, there are more than ten applicants for each place on the team. Pilots stay with the Red Arrows for a three-year tour of duty. Three pilots are changed every year, such that there are normally three first year pilots, three second year pilots, and three in their final year. The Team Leader also spends three years with the team. The 'Boss', as he is known to the rest of the team, is always a pilot who has previously completed a three-year tour with the Red Arrows, often (although not always) including a season as the leader of the Synchro Pair.

During the second half of each display the Red Arrows split into two sections. Reds 1 to 5 are known as 'Enid' (named after Enid Blyton, author of the Famous Five books) and Reds 6 to 9 are known as 'Gypo' (the nickname of one of the team's pilots back in the Sixties). Enid continue to perform close formation aerobatics while Gypo perform more dynamic manoeuvres. Red 6 (Syncro Leader) and Red 7 (Synchro 2) make up the Synchro Pair and they perform a series of opposition passes during this second half. At the end of each season, one of that year's new pilots will be chosen to be Red 7 for the following season, with that year's Red 7 taking over as Red 6.

The Reds have no reserve pilots, as a spare pilot would not perform often enough to fly to the standard required, nor would they be able to learn the intricacies of each position in the formation. If one of the pilots is not able to fly, the team flies an eight-plane formation. However, if the Team Leader, 'Red 1', is unable to fly then the team does not display at all. Each pilot always flies the same position in the formation during a season. The pilots spend six months from October to April practising for the display season. Pilots wear green flying suits during training, and are only allowed to wear their red flying suits once they are awarded their Public Display Authority (PDA) at the end of winter training.

The new pilots joining the team will spend their first season flying at the front of the formation near the Team Leader. As their experience and proficiency improves they will move to positions further back in the formation in their second and third seasons. Pilots who start on the left of the formation will stay on that side for the duration of their three-year tour with the team and pilots on the right side will stay on the right. The exception to this are Reds 6 and 7 (the Synchro Pair) who fly in the 'stem' of the formation - the two positions behind the Team Leader.

During an aerobatics display, Red Arrows pilots experience forces up to five times that of gravity (1g), and when performing the aerobatic manoeuvre 'Vixen Break', forces up to 7g can be reached, close to the 8g structural limit of the aircraft.

As well as the nine pilots, 'Red 10', who is the Team Supervisor, is a fully qualified Hawk pilot who flies the tenth aircraft when the Red Arrows are away from base. This means the team have a reserve aircraft at the display site. Red 10's duties include co-ordination of all practices and displays and acting as the team's Ground Safety Officer. Red 10 often flies TV cameramen and photographers for air-to-air pictures of the Red Arrows and also provides the commentary for all of the team's displays.

On 13 May 2009, it was announced that the Red Arrows would include their first female display pilot. Flt Lt Kirsty Moore (née Stewart) joined for the 2010 season alongside fellow newcomer Flt Lt Ben Plank. Wing Commander Jas Hawker concluded his three-year tour of duty as 'The Boss' and was replaced by 2009 Red Six, Squadron Leader Ben Murphy. Flt Lt Moore was not the first female to apply to become a Red Arrow, but was the first to be taken forward to the intense final selection process. She joined the RAF in 1998 and was a Qualified Flying Instructor on the Hawk aircraft at RAF Valley. Prior to joining the team she flew the Tornado GR4 at RAF Marham. Flt Lt Plank previously flew the Harrier GR9 at RAF Cottesmore.

The team for the 2011 season was announced on 13 September 2010 and subsequently undertook winter training in preparation for the 2011 display season. The team departed the UK on Friday 18 March 2011 and travelled to Cyprus to undertake Exercise SPRINGHAWK at RAF Akrotiri. The first 9-ship practice was flown on the first day of training in Cyprus on Monday 21 March 2011. The team remained in Cyprus until the end of May whilst they took advantage of the good weather on offer to work up to display standard. The team gained their Public Display Authority (PDA) on 20 May 2011, just two days before their first planned public display in Crete.

On 13 September 2011, the team for 2012 was announced. The team received its PDA on 22 May 2012, having taken part in the Armed Forces Muster for Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee at Windsor Castle three days earlier.

The 'Blues'

The engineering team that supports the Red Arrows is known as "The Blues" and consists of 85 members who cover all of the various trades in the RAF. Each season nine members of the Blues are selected to be members of the 'Circus'. Each member of the Circus works with the same pilot for the duration of the season and is responsible for servicing their aircraft and preparing their flying kit prior to each display. The Circus also fly in the back seat of the jets during transit flights.

The team use the same two-seat training aircraft used for advanced pilot training, at first the Hawker Siddeley Gnat which was replaced in 1979 by the BAE Hawk T1. The Hawks are modified with an uprated engine and a modification to enable smoke to be generated, diesel is mixed with a coloured dye and ejected into the jet exhaust to produce either red, white or blue smoke.
….The smoke trails left by the team are made by releasing diesel into the exhaust; this oxidises straight away, leaving a white smoke trail. Dyes can be added to produce the red and blue colour. The diesel is stored in the pod on the underside of the plane; it houses three tanks: one 50-imperial-gallon (230 L) tank of pure diesel and two 10-imperial-gallon (45 L) tanks of blue and red dyed diesel. The smoke system uses 10-imperial-gallon (45 L) per minute; therefore each plane can trail smoke for a total of seven minutes: – five minutes of white smoke, a minute of blue and a minute of red

….Incidents and accidents
Date Incident Details Notes
26 March 1969 A Gnat hit trees while joining formation during a practice at RAF Kemble Flt Lt Jerry Bowler (no ejection) killed.
16 December 1969 Two Gnats crashed, one at Kemble and the other in a field near Chelworth The pilots both ejected safely although a fire warning from air traffic was intended for only one of the aircraft.
1969 A Gnat crashed short of the RAF Fairford runway. [citation needed]
20 January 1971 Two Gnats collided during the cross-over manoeuvre, over the runway at Kemble Four fatalities.
17 May 1980 A Hawk hit a yacht mast at an air show in Brighton, Sussex The pilot, Sqn Ldr Steve Johnson, ejected safely.
21 March 1984 A Hawk hit the ground at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, while practising a loop. The pilot, Flt Lt Chris Hurst, suffered serious injuries when the impact with the ground forced the ejection seat through the canopy and deployed the chute, dragging him out.
1986 A Hawk rammed into the back of another on a runway.
16 November 1987 Two Hawks collided during a winter training practice with one aircraft crashing into a house in the village of Welton, Lincolnshire. The aircraft of Flt Lt Spike Newbery struck the aircraft of new Team Leader Sqn Ldr Tim Miller from behind, knocking off the tail. Both pilots ejected successfully. Flt Lt Newbery suffered a broken leg and had to leave the team.
24 June 1988 A Hawk crashed whilst attempting to take off, and the fuel tanks exploded. The pilot ejected safely.
1988 Flt Lt Neil MacLachlan died practising a "roll back" at RAF Scampton. 17 October 1998 Flt Lt R. Edwards landed short of the runway after a practice run at the Red Arrows then home base, RAF Cranwell, and ejected safely at low altitude.
9 September 2003 A Hawk overshot the runway while landing at Jersey Airport in advance of an air display. The pilot ran the jet into a gravel pile and little damage was sustained.
2007 The wingtip of a Hawk hit the tail of another during a practice flight near RAF Scampton.
23 March 2010 Two Hawks were involved in a mid-air collision. The synchro pair were practising one of their manoeuvres when the two aircraft collided. Red 7 (Flt Lt David Montenegro) landed his plane safely, but Red 6 (Flt Lt Mike Ling) ejected and suffered a dislocated shoulder. The incident took place during pre-season training in Crete. Due to his injuries, Flt Lt Ling was unable to participate in the forthcoming display season and was replaced by 2008's Red 6, Flt Lt Paul O'Grady.
20 August 2011 A Hawk aircraft crashed into a field near Throop Mill, one mile from Bournemouth Airport following a display at the Bournemouth Air Festival. Flt Lt Jon Egging, pilot of Red 4 (XX179), died in the accident. The investigation into the incident determined that Flt Lt Egging was incapacitated due to the effects of g-LOC until very shortly before impact.
8 November 2011 Pilot Flt Lt Sean Cunningham, was ejected from his aircraft while it was on the ground at RAF Scampton and subsequently died from his injuries. He was shot 200 feet into the air and received fatal injuries when his parachute failed to open. Coroner Stuart Fisher told a pre-inquest hearing he would examine whether an overtightened “shackle nut” had disabled the parachute.

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